[Review] In Flames by Greg Saunders

Posted: July 21, 2011 by pointyman2000 in Articles, D6, Reviews, Roleplaying Games

Let me start off by saying that In Flames caught my interest right off the bat with three things:

  • It uses the Mini Six System
  • Pretty, pretty cover art by Paul Bourne
  • The presence of Haitian Vodou Mythology used in a Sci-Fi Setting

And so I decided to grab the PDF and check it out.

If there’s one thing I have to say about Greg Saunders’ work, it would be that he is very, very thorough.  In Flames is a game written as a true corebook, one that is meant to cater to people who are already into RPGs as well as those who are new to the hobby.

Greg’s writing is approachable and easy to understand, but I do have a slight impression that there’s a distance to his writing.  It’s clear to see that he’s enthusiastic about his setting and his game, but I can’t help but feel that he’s holding back.

Thankfully that tone doesn’t harm the fact that In Flames offers a fresh take on the Sci-Fi RPG by slipping in a good dose of mysticism and moral ambiguity, which takes the form of the situation that the player characters find themselves in.

There’s no short way for me to describe exactly what the player character are, but I’ll try to give the Cliff Notes version.

There are two “realities”:  The Understar, which is the home of the Loa, godlike beings who occasionally entertain themselves by essentially possessing humans in the Flame Worlds, which is the material world where the game takes place.

The Player Characters are former Loa who have committed a crime so heinous that they were cast out of the Understar, and forcibly injected into one of the humans in the Flame Worlds.  As Exiles, they have to make the most of their suddenly limited existences.  Thankfully, they have hope, as a being calling itself Ghede offers them a chance to earn their place back in the Understar… if they perform several tasks for Ghede.

While this might seem like blackmail, the situation is actually somewhat better than it sounds.  It turns out that Ghede wants the Exiles to earn their place in the Understar by taking on other Loa who have begun to abuse their ability to ride humanity in the Flame Worlds.

What I loved about this setup is that becoming an Exile opens the character’s mind to how things are from a human perspective.  As Loa, humanity and the Flame Worlds in general were nothing but an amusing diversion.  To use a terrible analogy, the Loa are playing The Sims.  They indulge their desires by possessing hapless humans and get their jollies taking over the steering wheel.

But now that they’ve become the very playthings that they toyed with, things are different.  The Exiles don’t retain much memory of their time in the Understar, and are forced to rub shoulders with the people here, forming relationships and bonds that they would otherwise have missed as being the Loa.

Everything clicked in my head the moment I made the connection.  In Flames is Demon: the Fallen in SPACE.  Flawed godlike beings forced to lesser forms taking over bodies of humans in a world that was so divorced from the paradise that they once knew.  Except this time, Ghede takes pains to offer them a way back to paradise… but that itself raises a different question.  Now that they’ve opened their eyes to the reality of the Flame Worlds… can they go back to the Understar and go back to their blessed ignorance?

Mechanically, In Flames takes the Mini-Six and shows off exactly what it’s capable of.  My experience with the D6 system is that it’s a robust system that can handle pretty much anything, so I remain confident that In Flames will run without a hitch.

What I did like about it is the fact that Greg managed to slip in two interesting “Scales” that every Exile has:  Guilt and Dislocation.  Guilt is a meter that shows just how close a character is to their eventual forgiveness, where Ghede will allow the character back to the Understar.  Dislocation on the other hand, is a measure of the Exile’s connectedness to his host body.

These meters are an interesting way to track a character’s status, and how far along they are to their redemption.

In Flames is still a sci-fi system, and definitely doesn’t let you forget that one bit.  From the neat little sketch artwork to the fact that Greg has painstakingly statted out Vehicles, Technology, Robots, Planets and Stars.  Don’t let all my talk of the internal conflict fool you, In Flames has a lot of potential for action and adventure.

The missions that the Exiles are sent off to are the type that wouldn’t be out of place in say, the Mass Effect videogames.  The D6 systems supports this sort of play very well, and fans of harder sci-fi won’t find themselves wanting.

—-

In Flames offers something that most Sci-Fi games tend to overlook:  Internal Conflict.  While that’s easy enough to inject into a game as a GM, it’s rare that you see one built-in to a game right out of the box so well.

The use of the Mini Six system is an excellent choice for the setting, and In Flames offers a large open solar system with different environments that could easily be a springboard for any sort of campaign from action-adventure to espionage.  Sci-Fi is all about the toys, and the game has it in spades.  Exotic environments, vehicle stats, uplifted creatures, and corrupt and dangerous opponents are all over In Flames, and it has enough stuff in it to keep a campaign going on for a long, long time.

In Flames is a solid sci-fi game, and fans of the genre should definitely consider picking this up.

—-

In Flames is available in DriveThruRPG for $14.00 or roughly PhP 603.00

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Comments
  1. Greg Saunders says:

    As the author, can I say thanks very much for reviewing the game so quickly! I’m glad you liked it!

    Greg

    • Hi Greg,

      Nice of you to drop by! In Flames really caught my eye with the mention of Loas and Ghede in a Sci-Fi game, and I was definitely not disappointed. I’m glad that the D6 system really helped lend a solid level of crunch that suits a setting as broad and extensive as yours.

  2. Mr Nay says:

    I am so looking forward to getting a copy of this book. It sounds like I will like it even more than Summerland and Summerland is one of favourites.

  3. Alex says:

    Sounds interesting. Another solid contender to d6 Science Fiction.

    You know, it seems like d6 is really racking up solid Science Fiction settings. Then again, from its earliest days it was associated with one of the biggest SF properties out there.

  4. […] [Review] In Flames by Greg Saunders from Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer (philgamer.wordpress.com) Artwork, Azamar, Books, Brett M. Pisinski, Design, Fantasy, GM, GMing, Game, Game design, Games, J. Elliot Streeter, Non-player character, PC, PDF, PDFs, Products, Publishers, RPG, RPGs, Reviews, Role-playing game, Roleplaying, Wicked North Games, d6, d6 Magazine, gamemaster, gaming, genre, inspiration, magazine, people   Azamar, Brett M. Pisinski, d6 Magazine, D6 System, Dungeons & Dragons, Fantasy, Gamemaster, genre, Ghostbusters RPG, J. Elliot Streeter, Open D6, Palladium Fantasy, Role-playing game, RolePlay, roleplaying game, RPG, Star Wars Roleplaying Game (West End Games), Star Wars RPG, WEG, West End Games, Wicked North Games, Wizards of the Coast      News from Around the Net: 22-JUL-2011 » […]

  5. Greg Saunders says:

    By the way, the first supplement for In Flames is up on DriveThruRPG – let me know if you’d like a copy to review!

    Greg Saunders

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